Canine Distemper

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Distemper in Dogs

Overview

Distemper in Dogs
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Canine distemper (also known as hard pad disease) is a disease young dogs and puppies are prone to. The disease is often mistaken at first for canine parvovirus, as it presents similar symptoms. Distemper in dogs is second in severity only to the canine parvovirus and it is highly contagious, potentially fatal and not easily treated.

How Canine Distemper Spreads

The basic transmission of the canine distemper virus is spread through secretions of bodily fluids, such as urine, blood feces as well as airborne transmissions, such as coughing and sneezing by infected animals. The dog contracting the virus is infected generally though the nose or mouth where these infected cells can begin to reproduce.

Symptoms of distemper in dogs include:

  • Gooey eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

A side effect from this virus can include thickening of the skin over the pads, which causes them to become hard.

The major concern with this virus is the development of pneumonia as well as a secondary bacterial infection. A secondary bacterial infection is caused by the comprising of the digestive tract. After the virus has infected the respiratory and digestive tracts, it then moves to the central nervous system where it can cause tremors, imbalance, weak limbs and eventually seizures.

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Canine Distemper Treatment

There is currently no cure for distemper in dogs. Although with supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, antibiotics and airway dilators, which help clear the airway as well as coupage (i.e. the act of gently patting your hand over the chest of the patient to help knock mucus loose from the lungs), the patient can make a full recovery.

During this time, it’s increasingly important for your veterinarian or veterinary assistant to monitor your dog and provide the specified treatment.

You can protect your dog from contracting canine distemper by getting him vaccinated at an early age. Your veterinarian can advise you on the proper vaccination timeline for a new household puppy.

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